Anne Hathaway and Hamnet Shakespeare: Background information when reading Hamnet

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Hamnet

by Maggie O'Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell X
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2021, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Anne Hathaway and Hamnet Shakespeare

This article relates to Hamnet

Painting of Anne HathawayLittle is known about Shakespeare's family, names and birth dates aside — and even names are tricky. Though commonly referred to as Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife may have actually been named Agnes, according to a will left by her father. O'Farrell makes the decision to use the name Agnes in her novel Hamnet, but she references this confusion in the narrative itself, in a scene where she introduces herself as Agnes but Shakespeare mishears her and thinks she said Anne.

The real Agnes, or Anne, was born in 1556, likely in a town called Shottery near Stratford, and was raised by father Richard, a local landowner, and stepmother Joan in a one-story farmhouse called Hewley Farm. There were eight children in their home, three by Anne's mother and the younger five by Joan. Upon the death of her father in 1581, her brother Bartholomew took over the running of Hewley.

Anne was eight years older than Shakespeare, who was born in 1564. They married when she was 26 and he was 18, ...

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